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AMA concerned NSW easing rules too fast

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Doctors are concerned the accelerated NSW roadmap out of COVID-19 lockdown could see restrictions eased too quickly but a leading epidemiologist says it has to be done. 

The Australian Medical Association of NSW (AMA NSW) said changes to the state’s plan to emerge from lockdown could overwhelm the hospital system and burn out healthcare workers.

“We’ve got a new Premier in the driver’s seat, but that’s not a good enough reason to deviate from the course previously set,” AMA NSW president Danielle McMullen said.

“Keeping people safe must be the Premier’s top priority.

“Relaxing restrictions too soon will not be a ‘popular’ decision if it means the number of people contracting the virus and ending up in hospital skyrockets.”

The NSW Doctors Reform Society questioned whether newly-minted Premier Dominic Perrottet was listening to Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant’s advice.

“Mr Perrottet’s proposals to increase the numbers of people in people’s homes and stop the use of masks in offices could risk much higher numbers of COVID infections and even increased deaths,” DRS president Con Costa said.

Katherine Gibney from the Doherty Institute says while COVID case numbers will go up as restrictions loosen, easing out of lockdown is inevitable.

“Hopefully with high vaccination rates we’ll be protected against the more severe disease and those requiring hospitalisation and ICU but we are expecting these to increase in the coming weeks and couple of months,” Dr Gibney explained.

“It has to be done. We can’t live in lockdown indefinitely.”

Mr Perrottet on Thursday announced a revised strategy to reopen NSW, with the state to emerge from months of lockdown on Monday having reached its 70% double-dose vaccination milestone.

Ten adult visitors will be allowed in homes, 30 people can gather outdoors and 100 guests can attend weddings and funerals.

Indoor swimming pools will be able to open and all school students will be back in the classroom by 25 October.

All teachers have to be fully-vaccinated by the same date.

Restrictions will ease further when 80% of the adult population is fully-jabbed, expected about 25 October, when 3000 people will be allowed at ticketed outdoor events and nightclubs can reopen, though dancing would not be permitted.

Masks will not be required in office buildings in an attempt to encourage workers back to Sydney’s CBD.

These freedoms will apply only for the fully-vaccinated until 1 December, when freedoms are set to be restored for the unvaccinated.

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